With the increased adaptation of grazing systems has come some innovative approaches to fencing, as producers seek efficient and economical ways to temporarily section off fields. Fortunately, there are a variety of options.
“A lot of the grazing systems will use permanent fencing, which might include barbed wire or high-tensile fencing, and then the temporary fencing in between,” Bob Schultheis, University of Missouri Extension Natural Resource Engineer and Webster County Program Director, told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. “It is portable, and what it might be is just a single wire or some step-in posts. Cattle panels or metal gates can be portable” or temporary as well, he said.
Schultheis said while portable fencing may or may not be more expensive than permanent fencing, the real issue is the application. “If you’ve got a very small area that you’re going to need to contain livestock,” he said, “then temporary or portable fencing may be more economical in those situations than permanent fencing, which would include anchoring posts in the ground and putting up wire or panels.” Normally, this type of temporary fencing uses electrified polywire or tape; the animals are trained to respect the wire and will learn to avoid it, but it can be disconnected and relocated. “We’re trying to make it last as long as possible,” Schultheis explained. “If we’re looking at polywire that has strands of electric wire in it as opposed to a single, larger wire, then those are generally going to wear out sooner than the larger wires are, just because of bending and fatigue.”
The durability of the wire depends on how carefully it’s used; Schultheis recommended producers avoid laying it on the ground, where it can be trampled. “We might get a couple of years out of polytape, where we may get quite a few more years out of just wire where we have a spring connector on the end of it that we can connect to the more permanent fencing,” he said.
One rancher who incorporates some temporary fencing into his operation is Dan Douglas of Bentonville, Ark, who has 200 cows and sometimes sells bermudagrass as well. “I don’t know how many miles of fencing I have on the farm,” Douglas laughed. He told OFN the temporary fencing helps him with both rotational grazing and with bale yards in a good haying season. “Steel post and barbed wire is the big majority of it,” he said, “but some of the new electric fence materials – the solar chargers for electric fences, and some of the new polyblend wires that have the wires woven into the plastic or polyethylene – that is a really convenient way to put up temporary fencing.”
Schultheis said many farm supply stores now carry the materials you’ll need for rotational grazing; wire comes in rolls, and posts in materials ranging from wood or metal to fiberglass or step-in plastic. He advised producers to think about what they need to get the posts into the ground. “In a lot of the Ozarks we have pretty shallow soil,” he said, adding this can also make it difficult to ground the electrical system. “We may need to use a hammer driver to get the ground rod in, or dig a trench and lay the grounding system horizontally, and then we’ve got to put it in a place where we can keep it moist so that it’s very conductive and provides a decent ground for the charging system,” he said.


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